Human rights group urges Canada to help PH’s ‘human rights crisis’

Published May 5, 2021, 3:34 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki


A human rights group has urged a foreign government to help in addressing what it called “human rights crisis in the Philippines.”

Karapatan, a radical group that conducts research and monitors human rights violations, aired its laments during a hearing conducted last May 4 by the Canadian House of Commons Sub-committee on International Human Rights.

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, claimed that even Philippine courts which are mandated to provide legal protection to human rights defenders “refused or denied these protections.”

Palabay stressed the “urgency” to address the human rights crisis in the Philippines, especially given the challenges faced by their members.

“It has become even more dangerous every day for human rights defenders and ordinary citizens, with an epidemic of rights violations in the Philippines. Fifteen human rights workers of Karapatan were among the 394 civilians killed in the course of the Duterte government’s counter-insurgency campaign,” she said.

She also narrated what she called cases of impunity, in which the Philippine military and police carry out extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, and other violations against ordinary citizens.

She lamented that there is lack of “domestic mechanisms” that enable victims of human rights violations from seeking justice and accountability – especially in courts.

“Courts mandated to provide legal protection for defenders refuse or deny them, resulting in more harmful impacts on our lives, security, and liberty,” she said.

She then pleaded the Canadian government “to actively take action on these concerns with urgency, as our country further descends into an authoritarian state.”

Karapatan said the goal of the hearing was to urge the Canadian government to end its policy of “quiet diplomacy” in the Philippines and fulfill its human rights obligations.

Guy-Lin Beaudoin, a Quebec lawyer and co-chair of the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines-Quebec, agreed with the statements of Palabay.

“Canada must end its policy of quiet diplomacy,” he said.

He then called on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to publicly condemn the reported atrocities committed against human rights defenders in the Philippines and urged Canada to suspend all Canadian support to the Philippine government’s anti-terrorism and counter-insurgency programs.